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From her iconic feathered pashminas and one-of-a-kind neck pieces to suede handbags and beaded sandals, this is the story of Anna Trzebinski and some insight into what inspires her beautiful Kenyan creations
Described by Ralph Lauren as ‘the authentic me of Africa’, Anna Trzebinksi built her extraordinary brand from just 20 pashminas in a suitcase, made by a handful of women in her car park 25 years ago, to 400 in duffel bags today.
Researching her meteoric rise to global fashion fame we loved this quote from Wilfred Thesiger’s A Life of My Choice (and Anna’s North Star):
I believe that day implanted in me a life long craving for barbaric splendour, for savagery and colour and the throb of drums, and that gave me a lasting veneration for long established custom and ritual, from which would deprive a deep-seated resentment of Western innovations in other lands, and a distaste for the drab uniformity of the modern world.
Anna was born in Germany but grew up in Kenya with no other memory other than that of an enchanted barefoot African childhood. She has always been connected to the people of Kenya and to the amazing natural beauty of this country, and influenced by traditional crafts and the colours in nature. Anna never studied fashion and describes herself as not a shopper, rather a collector of beautiful things.
To quote Anna: ‘I am truly a child of Africa. She flows in my veins; she has given me everything and taken much! This is where I want to be.
I look for inspiration all around me and I love natural raw materials. My items are unique, hand-made pieces with a huge amount of detail. It is sophisticated handmade chic with an ethnic edge. Nothing to do with trends, it’s more of a statement, wearable art and in that sense it’s tribal art.
I have worked with the same artisans for 12 years and I have travelled the world and found amazing sources of raw materials of the finest quality. I believe in supporting traditional crafts over mass production: I am obsessed with traditional values and skills in handicrafts and artisanship. It has so much to do with the human spirit. Somehow it’s where the earth meets spirit. I see how people respond to the garments and accessories I make: it’s not shopping – they want to be part of this, own it not as a kind of trophy but to feel it, be empowered by it, to honour it. Sounds strange but it’s true.
My dream is to create amazing collectables for your lifestyle, a true statement of a sensibility not just a purchase’.
Note from the Editor: We are proud to showcase Anna’s beautiful pieces in our Safari Shop high up on the edge of the Great Rift Valley.
TAGGED WITH: Angama Safari Shop, Arts and Crafts, Design, Handmade, Retail